I got the inspiration for this salad from Lidia Bastianich. In a recent cooking show she came up with a refreshing celery-mozzarella combo to which toasted walnuts were added for crunch. Lidia mentioned something I fully agree with: celery is a very under-utilized veggie. I know many people don’t like it because of its fibrous and harsh texture. However, if you use the best celery you can find (no need to search for the gigantic creature of my recent past) at the perfect stage of ripeness, and slice it thinly, chances are most of your objections to this stalky creature will go away. Some chefs recommend peeling it, but I don’t see that happening in our kitchen.  I find celery refreshing, bright, and use it all the time. For this salad, I adapted Lidia’s basic idea to make a departure on the classic Caprese, a favorite with us.

Caprese Celery Salad

(adapted from Lidia Bastianich)

perfectly ripe tomatoes, sliced
fresh mozzarella, sliced
celery stalks, thinly sliced
toasted walnut halves or pieces
lemon juice
olive oil
Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Make a simple dressing mixing olive oil, lemon juice, mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Amounts are pretty flexible, I add a lot of lemon juice probably 50/50 with the oil. Make enough to coat all the pieces of celery and have some extra so you can drizzle all over the assembled salad. In a small bowl, mix the celery pieces with the dressing and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and mozzarella to a serving platter,  place the celery and dressing all over. Scatter toasted walnuts, sprinkle salt to taste (Maldon flakes are a great option here).


to print the recipe, click here

We loved this salad so much, I’ve been making it regularly now. Toasted hazelnuts go very well too, and sometimes I make the dressing with walnut oil.  The combination of celery with nuts is superb, I hope you’ll give it a try.  Now that the weather is wonderfully hot, this type of salad is the side dish to go with almost any protein of your choice. Roast chicken, grilled meats, grilled salmon. No need for anything else if you ask me…

Lidia’s show has everything I’d hope FoodTV Network would offer, but it doesn’t.  In our town it is broadcast by PBS. I set our Tivo to tape it and maybe twice per week there is a new episode waiting for me. She is very knowledgeable, fun to watch, and as a bonus often suggests the perfect wine to pair with her meals. I was surprised to learn that one of her restaurants is located in Kansas City, a couple of hours from home. Something to keep in mind if we ever decide to go for a special weekend trip to the “big city.”

ONE YEAR AGO: Oh, my God! I think I saw something!

TWO YEARS AGO: Celebrate Wednesday with Hoisin-Grilled Chicken and Soba Noodles

THREE YEARS AGO: The Manhattan Project

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carrot “Nib” Orzo

FIVE YEARS AGO:  A Sticky Situation

SIX YEARS AGO:  The Garden


  1. I love this salad and I’ve made one very much like this – inspired by Lidia. I would LOVE to cook with her instead of her cooking with her grandchildren. 🙂

    This is a perfect summer salad but I could eat it anytime if the tomatoes were good.


    • Maureen, don’t tell anyone, but I intensely dislike cooking shows in which the host/hostess brings kids to cook with. I quickly change the channel. But of course if it was Greenlee, I would watch the whole darn thing and melt away 😉 Double standard? Who, moi?


    • Those tomatoes were amazing, Phil found them at the grocery store, bought a bunch and we were sorry to see them go. Since then they’ve been a little less than stellar. Maybe another great batch will show up…



  3. This is easily my favorite summer salad. I’ve never tried it with celery. We drink a lot of homemade juices, so I always have celery on hand. In fact, I have everything to make this salad on hand. Guess what we’ll be eating this week!


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